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Physics and Nanotechnology

  • Physics
  • Thread starter JT7
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  • #1
JT7
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Like most undergraduates in physics, I'm passionate about what I study and very much would like to have a career as a physicist. However, while I don't mind being poor, I don't want to have to struggle to get hired. I'm also really interested in theoretical work, but I have been admonished that such pursuits can be career-killers. However, I've been looking into nanotech (and other fields at the crossroads between chemistry and physics, like condensed matter physics and chemical physics), and it seems that there are some good research opportunities combining both laboratory and theoretical work. I wanted to know if a) that there's still theoretical work done in nanotech fields, and that it's not just fiddling in a lab, and b) that the theory behind nanotech is physics-based, and that I won't find myself having to study biology instead of quantum mechanics. Thanks.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I wanted to know if a) that there's still theoretical work done in nanotech fields
Yes. There is a lot of work to be done. Try looking at some articles in nanotechnology realted journals.

and that it's not just fiddling in a lab
Some jobs will involve working in a lab, some won't. It's up to you to chose what to apply for.

b) that the theory behind nanotech is physics-based, and that I won't find myself having to study biology instead of quantum mechanics.
Well, are you interested in applications of nanotechnology? Biomedical areas are potentially a huge area of interest for nanoscience, so it is one option you could take. In order to research and progress the physics, you'll need an understanding of the contex in which the tech is to be used: this is where you would have to study further in something such as biology, chemistry or some engineering application. Since I started working in bioengineering I've found that the sciences blur together somewhat.
 
  • #3
JT7
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That's the thing, I want to focus more on the physics on the nanoscale, rather than biomedical applications. I really don't mind studying chemistry, but would a PhD in phys and chem be enough to do theoretical research in nanotech?
 
  • #4
Well you don't need to study biomedical nanotechnology if you don't want to - I was just trying to make the point that in a research career such as this the sciences/engineering overlap, it isn't as simple as "I'm studying physics".

Have a look at the highlights collection on the IOP website:

http://www.iop.org/EJ/nano

They choose some of their favourite publications of the year, and break it down into what can be considered the specific subject area in the contents page.
 
  • #5
JT7
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Oh I see, I see. Final question: is it common for people researching Nanotech to also conduct research in related fields, like, say, condensed matter physics or chemical physics?
 
  • #6
condensed matter physics or chemical physics?
Yes. In certain applications you will need to understand things from areas like this, though caution with 'chemical physics' since it's more of an umbrella term than an actual subject. That which can be considered as chemical physics is a huge number of topics.
 
  • #7
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A professor at my university was one of the first people to start studying nanoscience in the world. He has ove 75 papers published in the last 10 years. He is doing nothing but picking up in research speed. He just got off of sabatical and picked up a postdoc. He is extremely intelligent, I would almost consider him a p-chemist more than anything though. He loves physics but his nano stuff takes him into what I term chemistry more than anything. I guess not all chemistry, he works with magnetism, orbitals, and excited states more than anything. His stuff is way above my head but it really doesn't interest me either.
 

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